Ponder this:

Monday, December 31, 2012


Angus the poodle, Husband and I will be welcoming the New Year by sleeping, unless one of us needs a trip to the small room at that exact moment. I'm excessively pleased to have the day off from work tomorrow. It's one of the few holidays with no obligations of any kind. I must say that last week and this week are confusing me beyond repair. Half a day off followed by a whole day off followed by two days of work separated by a snow day when I couldn't get to work followed by a regular weekend; repeat.
As I left the office at noon today, I said to Jane, "Tomorrow's Saturday, right?"
"No," she said. "Tomorrow's . . . Sunday."
"Oh, well then," I said. "I'll see you the day after tomorrow."
"Thaaaaat's riiiight," she said.

It was worth a try.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Thank you, Wikipedia, for this image.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Shelter/Rescue animals are The Best

And so are the people who do the work (that never ends) at the animal shelters.

Two minutes and fifty-two seconds of people who have just fallen in love, or are about to:
Richmond (Virginia) Animal League's Operation Silent Night.  Husband and I have vowed never to have any but a shelter or rescue animal. Or perhaps a barn cat who'd like to have the best of both worlds.

We need a cat. 
The mice are, nightly, holding fancy dress balls in my house, in celebration of MiMau's demise. We need an orphan kitty who knows how to hunt. I've been spending time on Petfinder, but Husband says the farmers over the hill probably have barns full of cats they'd be happy to give up. When I drive past the farms, I slow down and watch carefully. All the cats are smart, staying inside in the warm barn, not outdoors gracefully stretching and washing hind legs, displaying themselves for adoption. 

It's only a matter of time. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Good news and good news.

The good news is that I'm going to be a great aunt in April. My sister's son and his wife are my only chance to be an elder to any blood relation so this is a big deal for me. They came to visit a few weeks ago and brought their wedding album that they said they'd just gotten . . . two years after the wedding. So we went through the album page by page, photo by photo. I was looking up at one of them, talking, as I turned the last page and when I looked down, there was the black and white sonogram picture, with two little soft fuzzy onesies underneath it. I was nearly overcome. "Oh. Oh! Oh oh oh," I said, as the tears welled up in my eyes. It was nice to be told about such an event in person. When my nephew was in the works, I heard the news in roundabout fashion: my sister told my mother, who mentioned it offhandedly a week or so after the pregnancy's confirmation. When he was born, nobody told me for a few days either, and that only when I asked. So this felt special to me.

I've been up to the attic and have retrieved all my knitting supplies. One sweater finished, many blankets, thumbless mittens and little hats to go. And such cute little simple dresses to make! I haven't yet mentioned it's a little girl, have I? Her mother says she'll be as girly or not-girly as she wants to be. Me, I'll be dressing her in pink and ruffles as long as I can get away with it. 

And the other good news is that I finally got a phone call from the head of the hospital's cardiology department in response to my letter of complaint about that doctor at my stress test. He phoned my cell while I was driving to work on a Monday morning, and I pulled over and spoke with him for nearly a half hour. It seems that the woman who was so unprofessional with me is, in fact, a cardiologist, not simply a technician as somebody had suggested she might be, and I am not the first to complain about her behavior. I gather that the witchy woman will be called upon the carpet and disciplined in some manner. My caller also told me that the test was not so inconclusive as the witch would have had me believe, and after he gave me his interpretation of the results, I decided to have an angiogram. Which I did on December 5. 

And lo and behold, what did he find during the angiogram, but that my left anterior descending coronary artery (aka the widowmaker . . . horrors!) was 80%-90% blocked. 

He put in two stents . . . first a littler one and then a bigger one . . . something happened in there after the first one was put in place that made a second A Very Good Idea. The result is that my heart is now able to move the oxygenated blood back out instead of having it accumulate in there like a filling Zip-loc bag. It is a wonderful thing to be able to take a deep breath. It is a wonderful thing to not "lose my breath quickly." It is a miracle to breathe at will and not feel as if I'm climbing a ladder, reaching for my next breath . . . with that breath two rungs above my clawing hands. I'm awfully glad I wrote that letter of complaint.

There you have it.
Good news and more good news.
I am a grateful woman.

Saturday, December 15, 2012


Awake here in the middle of the night I read story after story about Newtown, Connecticut. I read the comments from people who blame President Obama, from a man who has legally owned and shot guns all his life, from victims of similar past horrors.

I don't know a thing about guns. I surely don't know why anybody needs a gun that can mow down fifty people in one fell swoop.
I think most gun owners are probably responsible.
But the guns get stolen, don't they? It happened yesterday.

Lots of people in this country are sick in the head. Lots of those people are young or stupid or both.
We start medicating children when they're just past toddler stage because nobody can be bothered to teach their kids how to act, how to control themselves.

Everybody's angry here and nobody's listening to other people. Everybody's shouting down the other's opinion, learning nothing.

I don't know the answer, but I know there are a lot of things here that are very very wrong.

I tried five times to write something that made more sense, but here in this asylum, nothing makes sense, so why should I?

Friday, December 7, 2012

A Woman's Poem

I've been among the missing for a while, mostly due to a lack of thought worthy of expression.
Fortunately, someone emailed the following to me, and it suits my mood, so I'm sharing it with you.
Husband is not like the "he" in the poem.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

At work, I answer the phone.

This morning when I got to work, there was a message on the office phone. The message was from a woman who gave her phone number but no name. She was asking that someone pick her up. I returned the call prepared to give the woman the phone number for the county transportation department, who could send out a bus to her.
The person who answered the phone was the caller's sister, who said she had her sister staying with her, and . . . "She isn't feeling well . . . mental health wise. She thinks she's well enough to ride the bus. And she isn't. She's getting almost too bad to live with."
I know how the woman feels. "I understand," I said. "My mother..."
"...was like that?" the woman asked.
"Yes. And nobody helps you unless they're a danger to themselves or others."
But mentally unbalanced people can do a lot of damage without being called "dangerous."
As we hung up, I think that woman felt better. I felt worse, having been sucked back into The Bad Times With My Mother.

A few weeks ago, a woman called, having seen an ad for a business advertising "cash for houses." She phoned the number in the ad, and the receptionist didn't know how it worked and said she'd have a representative call back. She and her sister were trying to sell their deceased mother's home, and what did I think about it, did I know anything about that particular "cash for houses" business? The woman wasn't computer savvy, so I  Googled the outfit and read a little about it. I counseled her to expect to get a lowball offer on her mother's house, if she just wants to dump the house, it would be a way to go. I hung up and said to Jane, "I feel like Dear Abby."

On October 21 and again on October 31, I picked up the phone at work to speak with a woman who was inquiring whether or not the Village would be having Halloween on the 31st. I'm not actually positive it was the same woman both times, but the voice was similar. On the 21st she explained that the weather forecast called for rain, and she didn't want to send her child out to trick or treat in the rain. On the 31st, the caller didn't offer any explanation for her concern. Both times, I think I said something like, "Halloween is Halloween. It happens on October 31st. It isn't something the Village schedules."

I suppose there are community groups that have Halloween gatherings, but they aren't affiliated with Village government. I won't be surprised if someone phones about when the Village will be holding Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's Eve. The Halloween woman, or possibly, the Halloween women, has apparently grown up in a world in which she looks to the government for answers to her every question, and probably complains that the government tells her what to do every moment of each day.

Bye, kitty

MiMau passed away on November 5 at 7:30 in the evening, lying on the bed with Angus and Husband, and Husband petting her head. November 5 is now significant not only as the day that, thirty-four years ago, I met Husband, but also as the day MiMau died.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Random observations

A day before we were touched (barely, thanks be!) by Hurricane Sandy I counted eighty-two crows flying southward over the house. There were more after I stopped counting . . . maybe a hundred of them in all. All of them flying directly south, which seemed counter-intuitive to me. If I were a bird, no doubt the reasoning would have been clear to me.

Two days ago I saw a deer in a field as I drove by. It was mostly in its fall/winter dun coat, but with brush strokes of black on its face and elsewhere on its body. I've never seen a deer so darkly colored. It was beautiful. I slowed the car and the deer and I stared at each other. I do love moments of eye contact with wild critters. I always hope to soak up some of their wisdom.

The morning after the worst of the storm, the southern sky was filled with sharp-edged soft gray and taupe dove feathers of clouds, all separate from each other, with blue sky behind them. It was a sweetly peaceful and comforting sky.

I turned all the clocks back last night, early in the evening. I couldn't make my body believe the hour, and I went to bed very early . . . and woke up at 3am. Maybe if I pay no attention to the clock but sleep and wake at will all day today, I'll be able to be adjusted by the time I begin getting ready for work on Monday.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

In Trackless Woods

In trackless woods, it puzzled me to find
Four great rock maples seemingly aligned,
As if they had been set out in a row
Before some house a century ago,
To edge the property and lend some shade.
I looked to see if ancient wheels had made
Old ruts to which the trees ran parallel,
But there were none, so far as I could tell-
There'd been no roadway. Nor could I find the square
Depression of a cellar anywhere,
And so I tramped on further, to survey
Amazing patterns in a hornbeam spray
Or spirals in a pine cone, under trees
Not subject to our stiff geometries. 

~Richard Wilbur

A few weeks ago I heard this poem on The Writer's Almanac and it stunned me with its verity. Nothing is so amazing as the symmetrical beauty of natural things.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

MiMau is A Good Cat

MiMau is a good fifteen years old now, and she grows thin. We have been to the vet a couple of times with our complaint. There's nothing wrong with her except that she's hollowing out between her hip bones and her ribs. Her fur is as thick and soft as ever. There is occasional evidence of hairball accumulation, but blood tests show nothing even borderline. Certainly her hunting skills have not diminished. Nearly every day, there is a deceased mousey directly in our path as we exit the front door. She's a humane killer: the little bodies show almost no violence, just one killing strike. She used to eat the fresh meat, then she chose to dine on only the heads. Now, apparently, she's killing simply for sport, and to stay in fighting trim should we move away and leave her on her own. Not a chance.

She's a great cat and I'd give her anything that would fatten her up again. She likes to have me sit next to her while she eats her kibble. Maybe she'd like some canned food, but I doubt it. She's never liked it. Maybe some canned salmon? Fresh salmon? 

MiMau demonstrating her successful hunting technique: 
Wait quietly, and the prey comes to you.

Monday, October 15, 2012

The dying of the light

Rage, rage against it all you like: the light of life, and of day, and 
of carotene and anthocyanin all fade in 
a dishearteningly short time.

September 29, 2012

The very same trees, October 14, 2012

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Testimony: Exercise Improves Life

I am enjoying a jewel of an October day. 

This morning it was rainy and dreary and cold and I could think of nothing more fun to do than cuddling up with my book and blankets. I drifted off to sleep with the blankets wrapped around my head and only a nose hole for air, pretending to be a squirrel in a hollow tree with my fluffy tail wrapped around me. 
When I woke up, the weather was glorious! Blue sky, warm air! 
Out of bed, into tank top and jeans and onto the porch to help Husband stack firewood. 
It's the annual ritual: last weekend the pretty summer furniture and all the plants came off the porch and this weekend the space transforms to woodshed. Last year Husband did the great majority of wood transfer all by himself and this year I'm getting in on the chore. It goes much faster and, after all, it's exercise. I feel so good, being able to help him without my back seizing up on me! A benefit of moving, walking, breathing hard on a regular basis!


PS: The photo is from January 2011, I think. We do not have snow yet.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Things I haven't told you

I didn't tell you about the great blue heron who was crossing the road. I slowed way down so that I might get close enough to see his details, but wary heron unfolded his wings and rose off the macadam while I was still a couple of hundred feet away. I have heard that migrating ducks look for herons to find resting places . . . the ducks are supposed to know that if a shy heron is hanging around the place, it's safe. I think that idea might give ducks a little more intellectual credit than they might deserve, but what do I know?

I didn't tell you about the red tailed hawk that watched me walk by on the seasonal road. When he saw me coming, he took off, but came back and perched in the same tree that he had left and stayed in the top of the tree, glaring at me from thirty feet in the air. 

I didn't tell you about the Canada goose family waiting at the side of the road until my car passed. Papa and Mama waited with Baby Gosling between them. When I remember the trio, it seems to me that Baby Gosling might have had a red balloon floating above him, the string tucked under his wing.

The Canada geese are getting ready to migrate. This morning I passed a stubbly corn field filled with them. They're perfectly camouflaged for hiding in cornfields; the only way I could see them was to look for their heads above the cut stalks. The flocks have begun maneuvers in preparation for migration. I had Angus outdoors this morning, heard them honking and was pleased to be looking in just the right direction to see them appear over the trees that border the fields. Fortunate. Most times, I hear their voices and can't tell where they will appear. There must have been a hundred of them, all honking. As they flew into view they were just a mess of geese, but they formed up into some ragged Vs as I watched. These might not even go away for the winter. Quite a number of them stay around all year, as the robins do. It seems to me that robins used to go away in the cold weather; now they loiter through the winter.

I didn't tell you about the man who came into the office whose brogue charmed me. "He says I need to sign this in front of you," he said. 
I couldn't help it. I asked him, "If I bring you the phone book, will you read it to me?" 
Afternoon boss says the man blushed. I had looked down at my clasped hands (I think I was blushing, myself) so I didn't see if we were becoming rosy simultaneously.
I did the notary public thing (Do you affirm that the contents of this document are known to you and that it is the truth?) and he nodded and blinked his blue eyes and said, "Yis . . . yis." 

Monday, October 1, 2012

Saturday morning walk

It was drizzly and misty and dreary and I did not want to go out in the wet to walk. But my head felt foggy full-moony and stupid and I knew I needed some light and/or oxygen and/or warmth in my toes. On days like that it's quite often warmer outdoors than in, I find. So I steeled my will, fleeced myself up, and took the camera. I am neither a conscientious nor careful photographer, as you can see by the drops of rain on the lens . . . but the camera got me out to walk, and the colors are pretty in the clouds that sat in the tops of the trees.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Thank you, Moira

For months, I've been thinking frequently of a particular family who lived down the country road from my home in the 1950s. David was in my class at school, and I remember that in first or second grade he had bright red chinos with a buckle in back. David was solemn and studious. I don't have many memories of his laughing. Our school was across the road from the volunteer fire company. David's father was a member, and David knew the significance of all the siren combinations. "It's a bad one," he'd say with authority, as the siren howled eight times or ten times. "That's for mutual aid." He had three sisters, one of whom was a year or two younger and whose apple cheeks and curly dark hair I remember very clearly, and another two, who were beautiful little strawberry blonds, but really too young to be on my radar. That family was part of our neighborhood . . . an old family who, like us, had owned the land for generations back . . . and summers had us trudging up the hill down the hill around the corner by the one-room schoolhouse that Dad had gone to (and was then falling down) over to their house. Red wasn't mean, but he was a real old-time Irish patriarch. He took his parenting duty seriously. I remember his backhanding David's head if he perceived any hint of disrespect coming from that quarter. He didn't do it very often, but the thought of anybody's father whacking him a glancing (but still, pretty solid) blow on the back of the head shocked me, so the memory stuck. Sometimes, all of us kids would go over to Red's parents' old farm where he still kept cows. The old farmhouse stood in the pasture, windows gone, porch floorboards askew. "You kids stay out of there!" Red would call, and if we'd been having any thought of going inside the spooky old house, we immediately dismissed them.

Moira was the mother of the family, at once serious and cheerful. She had long dark hair that she twisted up behind her head, and ruddy cheeks and, like me, a space between her upper front teeth. I hated my space, but on her it looked good. I remember her always at the kitchen table mending things or at the kitchen sink, beginning to get supper ready. We called her Maura for a long time until one day she said, in her quiet voice, "My name is really Moira. It's an Irish name." I was fascinated. It was as if she had become a different person, exotic. I remember that she spoke to me as if I were a person and not a little kid. I remember her telling me about when she'd been baptized in the old-fashioned full-immersion style . . . and how she'd known it was coming but how surprised she'd been all the same. 

One day, the September after Dad died, I got home from school and was dismayed when, a short time later, Red's truck drove in the driveway. Mom was working and at ten I had already formed the habits of solitude and of hiding like a rabbit. Red went to the barn to do something and the dark-haired daughter hollered my name over and over and over again as loud as she could to make me come out and play with her. I hid in my bedroom and finally heard Red say, "If she doesn't want to come out, she doesn't want to come out. Leave her alone."
I was so envious that she still had her father.
We moved away a year later and I've never seen any of them again these fifty years.

So that's all, I guess. 
I've been thinking of them, and thinking of them, and today I read that Moira died two days ago. 

It's funny how the cosmos makes connections across so much space and so much time.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Fall light

I have often thought that the fall colors of the deciduous trees are the compensation 
Mother Nature gives us for taking away daylight.

Saturday, 9/29/2012 at 8:00am
Sugar maples across driveway from house

Thursday, September 27, 2012

An observation

I know, through my job, a woman who is funny, intelligent, attractive, clean, employed, fit, married. You know . . . normal. I do not do Facebook (is the second syllable supposed to be capitalized?) but over a friend's shoulder I happened to see subject woman's Facebook page, in which she rants about her . . . distaste . . . for a "nanny state." I was surprised by her anger as she is, in person, quite pleasant. This woman lives on a street partly and temporarily populated by students of the local college. The noise, particularly on Thursday nights, well into the wee hours, is making her insane. I know exactly how she feels, having lived across the street from a suburban twenty-four hour supermarket. A few years ago I wrote about those horrors. 

Small Pond has enacted a toothier noise ordinance, and our woman was pleased to hear it. Progress! she felt. She was mightily disappointed when it turned out that the new law does not require public beheadings of suspected noisemakers after one whistle, hiss, holler, etc. In some unrelated correspondence, she asked me if a certain new property owner would be permitted to rent his apartments to college students. I replied that it is illegal to discriminate against any class of people and her response was, verbatim: "blah, blah, blah..."

I conclude that in her eyes, government trying to help other people . . . people who can't support their families on minimum wage jobs, for example . . . is wrong, but government definitely needs to keep college students from waking her up at night. 

Whose line is it and where should it be drawn?
And besides all that, maybe one of those college students will graduate to become a signmaker who can spell. That would be worth a little discomfort in the short run, wouldn't it?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Baked Zucchini (aka courgette in the UK) and Tomato Casserole Recipe

My friend B sent me this zucchini/tomato recipe and I cooked it up Sunday afternoon. Instead of the panko bread crumbs, I used some stale homemade Italian herb bread that I chopped up into little dry coarse crumbs. And when I was grabbing herbs from the pantry, I grabbed Adobo seasoning instead of garlic powder. I hardly ever make anything the way I'm told to.

It most definitely does require that (at least) ten minute wait before cutting for it all to firm up. I actually let it sit quite a bit longer than that and it was a little loose. My tomatoes were very ripe and juicy. Next time, I might layer the crumbs among the vegetables. It didn't come out of the pan in perfect little squares. Sure is tasty, though, and the zucchini was nicely al dente. I think this is going into the regular rotation. 
Thanks, B!

Sunday, September 23, 2012


I'm just back from my walk in the brisk fall air. The sky is blue with lots and lots of fluffy white clouds scudding by up there, soft gray underbellies smoothed off by the wind. I feel that there is something so sweet about this time of year; the world is so beautiful in a sentimental way. I took my time on my route, not so much because I was feeling slow, but because I wanted to prolong my reason for being out on the dirt road, walking through the alternating tree shadow and bright sun, smelling the scents of cow manure and fermenting corn blown from upwind fields.

I passed Old Frank on my way out. He was trimming the grass around his house. I kept watching for an opportunity to wave, but he didn't look up. On my way back, he was trimming close to the road, so I stepped up next to him, my shadow providing silent notice that he had company. Frank is old: I don't want to surprise him too suddenly. This must be my weekend for conversations with wise old men. He and I had a short political discussion during which both of us complained and neither of us committed to one presidential candidate or the other. We talked about the price of gas, and the questionable value of a college degree, and he confirmed for me that Neighbor Bob has moved out of his house that he built with his own two hands. Bob has one of those horrible diseases, not uncommon, but variable in its victims' symptoms, and he can no longer bring in firewood, plow the driveway, mow his lawn. His wife is not sturdy either, so they've moved west to live nearer relatives. I asked Frank if somebody had bought the house.
"They don't have it for sale yet!" he cried. "There's a lot I could say, but . . . you know..."
Frank apparently feels something's amiss in the arrangement, but he wouldn't criticize his neighbors even if they aren't his neighbors anymore. Frank is a wise old man.
He said, "I collect sayings . . . y'know, I'm old and . . . one of them is 'You can't teach common sense.'"
"We have one we use often at work," I said. "It's 'You can't fix stupid.'"
I don't think we were talking about Bob and his wife. We might have been, but I think we were simply expressing our general agreement about the rest of Those People Out There Who Aren't So Wise As We. Lucky us: we're so smart.

Last night Husband went out for his second walking turn of the day, and just as he reached the end of the first lap, the skies opened and the rain came down in sheets. A car stopped and the couple in it offered him a ride. They were people who live two and a half miles away from us on another dirt road. We didn't know them, and they didn't know Husband, but they took in a soaking wet man and brought him home.

I love where I live.

First, read "Rambles" on Fridge Soup

Reference Rambles.

What I really liked about the elderly gentleman was that, when I said I was there to pick up my resized rings in the magical hope that once they'd been made larger, I would immediately lose so much weight that I would need to have them made smaller again . . . he said, "Oh, that's the least of your worries." 
It was pretty nice being in the company, even for a few minutes, of somebody who had lived long enough to realize that being overweight is not The Worst Thing That A Person Can Let Happen To Her.
Lady Gaga is spotted wearing an outlandish ensemble while leaving the Park Hyatt Paris Vendrome hotel in Paris on September 22, 2012

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Wednesday, hump day

It is jump-in-the-shower time but the following thoughts occur to me and I don't feel like jumping-in-the-shower right this minute.

Now that the nights are cool . . . high 40s, low 50s . . . I sleep so deeply! It's like going on a slumberous vacation, burrowing under the blankets, nestling my head among the pillows, getting the firm pillows and the soft pillows in exactly the right spots. It's the only part of my 24 hour day that I feel like a princess.

Afternoon boss emailed this morning: won't be in, up all night with chest pain. This is no longer cause for alarm in my heart. He subsists on an hour and a half of sleep per night, if he is to be believed, and he has had heart issues since forever and, most of the time, ignores them. I've been wishing for a come-home-early day and for sure now, today won't be it.

Speaking of heart issues, I went out and did my very short walk this morning. All of fifteen minutes. I do lose my breath quickly, but I also seem to recover it quickly, so I guess that's good. I did not want to go out there this morning. It's dark and damp and not energizing weather, but just because I felt that I might never want to go out and walk again, I did it. By golly! So now I've broken through that mental barrier. So many of those mind games I have to play to accomplish almost anything!

I did send my complaint to the hospital administrator. Quite eloquent, I think I was, with just enough emotion to inspire empathy. I await some response. I expect I'll get something from somebody. Maybe a coupon for a free blood test, the way big corporations do for complaints about grocery items?

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Real estate

One of my favorite time wasters is checking houses for sale in different places. It's a lot like checking out job want ads in that I usually end up being pretty glad I'm in my current circumstances.

One of the local newspapers has a House of the Week feature and this week's darling is a big farmhouse with lovely thick stone walls. It's a little barn-like indoors, but I adore the windows.

House of the Week: 437 Deweys Bridge Rd., Fort Ann | Realtor: Sarah Hislop at Select Sotheby's International Realty | Discuss: Talk about this house Photo: Courtesy Photo / AL

I think I might be a little afraid to wander around on the second floor in the dark of night for fear I might accidentally descend to the ground floor sans stepping down stairs. But it's beautiful, is it not?
House of the Week: 437 Deweys Bridge Rd., Fort Ann | Realtor: Sarah Hislop at Select Sotheby's International Realty | Discuss: Talk about this house Photo: Courtesy Photo / AL

This house, which looks to me like a condominium (probably one of those "doesn't translate from British to American" things), just charms me. It looks like a little doll's house to me.

To the left there as one faces the front of the house . . . is that a little walk-through to the rear yard? For anyone to use? 
I do like those heated towel racks in all the British bathrooms! What a luxury, although I understand the room in which the towel rack is located might be otherwise unheated. 
It's so cozy to have all the houses all cuddled together and still to have access to huge fields. If the sounds of my neighbors got to be too much for me I could get out among the hay and look away from . . . people.

Having spent some time this morning noodling around, looking at properties for sale in Yorkshire, I can certainly see why New York was named after it. The natural features are nearly identical. 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Enjoy the ride

This is one of those slideshows that eventually go everywhere in the world. Most of the sentiments have been everywhere in the world already. 
But it's nice.
And the sentiments are worth another thought.

Click here: 
Enjoy the ride

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Treadmill stress test

If ever you are a doctor administering a treadmill stress test, here are some things that, in my opinion, you should not say to the patient, aka victim.

Within the first ten seconds: Not much of a walker, are you?
This is very slow! Not even 1.7 miles per hour! Oh, why no! It's even slower than that!

When the patient has cried Uncle! and has collapsed onto the gurney behind her, don't dismissively wave one arm and say, "I can't tell you anything from this! It'll go to the main hospital and somebody there will look at it. I can tell you that your tolerance for exercise is very poor."
Do not run your gaze from forehead to feet and back again and say, "Maybe it's just because you're out of shape."

Trust me: a fat person knows that she is fat. She doesn't need you, you angular pointy-chinned witch, to disdainfully advise her of the fact. 
I came home and wept with shame.
I will never . . . never . . . ever . . . go through one of those things again.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Monday, August 20, 2012

Yet another grammar rant

The Girl's Like Spaghetti: Why, You Can't Manage without Apostrophes!
Image from Amazon.com

The only time an apostrophe should be anywhere near "it" is when it replaces letters and creates a contraction. It's is one of two combinations of words: it is or it has.
Its, without an apostrophe, is possessive. 

People have become afraid to use an s on the end of a word without throwing in an apostrophe. Last week I saw a license plate frame on a vehicle. On the frame there was written "The Hart's." I wonder which one of the Hart family owns that car, assuming it is not owned by a male of the red deer especially when over five years old. (Where would he fit his antlers while driving?)  If the meaning were that the Hart family owns the vehicle, it would have read "The Harts'".

I think, however, that those license plate frames are greetings rather than messages of ownership. The entire concept of announcing one's existence via license plate frames or little signposts in the front yard goes against my grain.

There appears to be great fear of me abroad in the land.
My grandparents took my brother and me camping gets twisted into My grandparents took my brother and I camping because the writer or speaker fears using me. It's just as painfully incorrect as Hi, me am home. 
Please, please: My brother and I go camping with my grandparents.

Words for groups of things, people, etc., are, in essence, singular words.  Family is a singular word. I use the word family so I don't have to say, "My mother, my father, my sisters Beulah, Drusilla, Eustachia, and my brothers Billy Bob, Joe Bob, and Dan Bob..."
My family has its own car, not My family has our own car or, Heaven forfend, My family has their own car (What, are you suddenly not one of them?).

Oh, I could go on and on, but I'm beginning to twitch, and it's making me spill my ice water.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Lightening the load

It's a trifle over two solid weeks that I've been walking a two-mile route. Once a day, morning or evening. Sometimes, if my Achilles tendons are tight and sore, it isn't even the two-mile route, but rather the half-mile driveway loop. I weighed myself a week ago and had lost nothing. I kept at it, thinking that with the eating habits changing and the moving-instead-of-sitting-for-the-equivalent-length-of-time, something would have to give.

Empty chairs on a cruise ship deck Stock Photo - 7477324

This morning: five pounds lighter!
It's like throwing a deck chair off the Queen Mary.

Saturday, August 11, 2012


Thanks to Hilary for naming this a Post Of The Week.

I'm home until the sixteenth of the month, using up the last of my annually awarded three weeks of paid vacation. I had a respectable list of Chores That Take Time to accomplish during this time. I have done almost nothing that is on the list. I have, however, walked every morning, usually before dawn. The sun rises just before I reach the driveway on the trip home, when my ankles are weakening and twinging and my lower back is all nice and loose, and I have finally relaxed enough to stop holding my breath and I'm panting deeply. I come inside and take off sneakers and socks and I sweat for a little while before I shower just so I can pretend to be an athlete for a few minutes. A shower and then it's fresh shorts and tank top and my book on the porch until all my muscles relax and I get hungry. It's a wonderfully satisfying routine, and I would like to retire so I could make it my routine all year. My go to work mornings don't allow enough time for all that leisurely sweating, showering, sitting.

I thought that during my morning walks I would see wildlife everywhere, but I don't. No doubt I make so much noise that the animals are all long hidden before I am close enough to spy on them. I have seen one deer leaping across the road. The road is narrow and the deer was agile. It was one bound and gone. Rabbits stay immobile at the side of the road, trying for invisibility. Their nerve usually fails them at fifty feet, though, and they leap into the greenery. This morning one waited until I was nearly upon him, and hadn't seen him, before he bustled through the low-growing leaves. The sudden scuffling provided a shot of adrenalin to my heart. I keep forgetting to look for the snake Husband says is nearby. He says the snake must have just caught a frog and both are dead, run over by a vehicle, their corpses drying in the dirt road. The sight as I envision it offers a philosophical question: Is it preferable to have Death come just at that moment when a goal has been achieved, or is it even more of a loss to die without enjoying the satisfaction of the achievement? 

Along the seasonal road signs are posted: ROAD NOT MAINTAINED BETWEEN DECEMBER 1 AND APRIL 15 so that people won't plunge their vehicles into the midwinter snowdrifts. People still do that; Husband did a few years ago. But the town has discharged its responsibility and those who do get buried are on their own, stumbling back to the farmer at the end of the road to beg help via a tractor and a chain. Maybe because no snowplows go through there, debris has accumulated. This summer's additions include a navy blue tee shirt with a Ford emblem on the chest that hangs on the branches of a wild shrub, as if somebody got too hot and hung out his laundry to dry without benefit of washing first. Farther along, a thick blue tarp with lots and lots of white block printing on it. Warnings, printed in four languages, to avoid this and that. It appears to me that such tarps, intended for tying over haybales, have been used at one time or another as trampolines, causing the manufacturer's insurer to require a warning of "NO JUMPING." It is repeated in Spanish and French, and in German: "NICHT SPRINGEN." That makes me smile. Springen sounds like something elves might do, and so much more fun than jumping. And Nicht Springen! sounds like a kindly old Santa Clause-y figure admonishing apple-cheeked children to go straight to sleep and nicht springen on their quilt-covered featherbeds. 

Saturday, July 21, 2012


In the recent inhumanely hot temperatures, I have thought more than usual about swimming. In pools, in swimming holes in creeks, in the ocean, in lakes.

On hot days when I was little, we would pray that Dad would come home, get out of his truck and, on his way in the door, call, "Who wants to go swimming?" I think it was considered Not A Good Idea to ask or pester: we had to wait to see if Dad would feel the need for a dip. We'd hardly wait for his invitation to be out of his mouth before we'd begin to scramble out of our wilted sweaty shorts and shirts and into our bathing suits and all pile into the truck to go to the swimming hole at "the crick." I wouldn't be able to find the place now to save my soul, but it was a spot on the Kaydeross where tree roots made rough stairs in the steep bank. You could tell how many people had been there before you by the muddy slipperiness of the roots. I still love that creek mud smell, although last summer's flood somewhat tainted it for me.

I was fifteen when the family who employed me as a babysitter asked me to go with them to Bar Harbor to "nanny" for them. The kids and I stayed with the Missus' mother: there was little nannying to be done. Mr. and Mrs. went on a sailing trip with friends for a few days and then they were back to watch their own kids. They were very nice people. I think they were just being terribly kind to me and wanted to give me a vacation. If you've never swum in the ocean off the Maine coast, you haven't experienced Refreshing. I believe there is ice in the water there. That was the first time I ever experienced undertow . . . I was twirled and spun and scraped along the bottom for a few short but uncomfortably long moments. 

A summer day in my early teens: my friend's family stopped at my house to ask if I wanted to go along with them to a week's stay at a lake in Vermont. I needed to bring sheets and we had no extra sheets, so I took the dirty sheets off my bed. When my friend's mother saw those sheets . . . they were worn and torn almost from one end to the other . . . she laughed. I think that I never took them out of the car. L and I rowed a boat that was provided with the cabin and played cards at night in the yellow porch light. The lake was filled with those tall leafy weeds that twine around your legs. I tried not to make ugly sounds of fright as they stroked my legs until I swam out to deeper water where they couldn't reach me.

When I was in college, I worked as a chamber maid at a motel for one summer. One of my employee privileges was use of the motel pool after I'd cleaned all my rooms. I had the best suntan of my life that summer. First I had the worst sunburn of my life, and I continued to go out in my little red two-piece suit and cook myself through my sunburn until I was so hot I could hardly breathe. Then I'd get up, stalk to the edge of the pool and dive in without any ado. Once my flesh cooled enough for comfort, I'd climb up the stairs, go back to my lounge chair and cook some more. I was careful to remove all jewelry and spread my fingers so there would be no white areas other than those covered by my suit. If I get skin cancer, that summer is the reason.

This summer when the heat's stopped my brain from functioning well enough to accomplish anything or even to read, I've daydreamed about having a small pool here at the house. What a pleasure it would have been, last week, to spend my days and nights lolling in the water, letting it leach the heat from my blood. Then I think about having to clean the thing and make sure the chlorine's correct and having to fish out drowned rabbits and woodchucks, and a cool shower seems perfectly good.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Baby birdie

I took these two photos of a barn swallow chick on July 7, the first day we saw him out of the nest. It was, clearly, a little bit too early for his capabilities. 

Sitting on the gravel in front of the barn door. 

I herded him closer to the building so he wouldn't be quite so obvious to MiMau, should she pass by. 
She never seemed to notice him. 
Angus did, though, from inside the house. 
What a ruckus!

These next three were the next day. We were so glad to see that he'd made it through the night. He had overnighted in the barn. At about 9pm Husband had seen him in there, perched on a pile of tires.

"More breakfast!"
Mom and Pop were dropping by every fifteen seconds with food to stuff down his throat. They needed to get him grown and strong fast!

Mom and Pop Swallow, and the entire clan, were practically pulling my hair out strand by strand as I took these pictures. Very conscientious parents, except for that letting the baby out on his own thing.

And on Monday afternoon, the little baby was perched on his pile of tires inside the barn. Husband went toward him, and our baby birdie took off and flew in a circle three times and then out the barn door and up over the roof.
He must have surprised himself with such a feat!

The whole swallow squadron came out again and I'm sure knew exactly where he was . . . they were swooping way back in the field behind the barn. That must have been where the baby was. Of course we don't know now if he grew to dependable flying age successfully, but Husband says he saw three swallows flying together a couple of days later. 
Two of them had complete and pretty swallowtail feathers, and the one in the middle did not.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

MiMau is fine.

At 7:30 last night I saw MiMau at the bottom edge of the lawn, listening to the tall grass. I could tell she was working into hunting mode. She's never very far from hunting mode anyway. At 8:30 she wasn't home. At 9:00 she wasn't home and Angus was beginning to do his TimeToGoUpstairsToBed dance. I made it to 10:00 and figured if she came to the door and did her speed bag punching routine on the glass door it would probably wake me up. (Husband went to New Jersey yesterday . . . which means that he was not here last night at midnight to let MiMau in from her evening rambles.)  
I woke up this morning: no MiMau.

I took my shower, got dressed, put on makeup, was back downstairs, fingering through the little bin of jewelry that hasn't made it back upstairs where it belongs, looking for something with which to array myself. 
I had made up my mind that MiMau had become part of the great mandala again. This, I thought, is the summer of dwindling pet population.

My head snapped upright. I dropped the ring I'd had in my fingers. I ran to the door yelling Kitty!!!!

And there she was, one side all toasted warm from lying somewhere sunny. She sauntered in, went to her kibble and munched a little bit while I sighed and moaned and petted her and told her how glad I was to have her home.

Now she's walking back and forth across my laptop keyboard.
"See? You didn't like me doing this -- you pushed me away -- but now I can do it all I want, can't I?"